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Hot prospects
  |  First Published: February 2011



It looks like we might get some exciting offshore fishing this season. After six or seven forgettable years out to sea, it seems the blue water is finally going to push right into shore, bringing many of those exciting northern species we eagerly await.

So far there's already been spotted and Spanish mackerel, wahoo, a few small black marlin and some big cobia inshore. I suspect this is just the start of the northern speedsters, so get ready for a big season of game fish.

Those heading up to the reefs off Grassy and Scotts Head have found a few good-sized spotted mackerel. This is no doubt the start of the run because reports from further north suggest plenty of fish to come and is a welcome change of pace from a few slow snapper seasons on the same grounds.

As usual, live slimy mackerel have been the most reliable option. Fished on light wire (around 30lb) and a sporty 4 to 6 kilo outfit, spotted mackerel can provide plenty of thrills.

Some big cobia have also been caught on the northern reefs, with a few real thumpers pushing 36kg.

On light mackerel gear these fish would be real nightmares but geared up with 15kg to 24kg tackle and fishing live baits near the bottom could produce some memorable fishing if the cobes are still about.

Those looking for marlin and cobia just off Trial Bay Jail have found a few willing customers. Again, it is still only early days for all these exciting game species so I expect things to pick up markedly by the time you read this report.

As it stands, there's loads of slimy mackerel on the reefs so things are certainly looking set to fire.

KINGS, COBIA

Heading south is starting to get interesting also, with some solid kingfish coming in at Fish Rock and Black Rock. Green Island is also turning up some nice kings around 15kg.

Most of these bigger fish are travellers and tend to hug the ocean rocks, so Black Rock in particular should see some of these bigger fish.

One of the good things about fishing for big kingfish around these southern islands and headlands is the methods used for the kings are also very effective for cobia.

Cobia tend to wander south hugging the inshore reefs and islands, so a slow-trolled live bait, or one fished deep as you drift, will be of equal interest to both species.

So hopefully the good blue water will continue to belt into the coast and we will see an ever-increasing number of pelagic speedsters hit the inshore reefs and islands.

RIVER TOUGH

The poor old Macleay River cops a real beating. Be it fish kills from archaic floodgates, or unregulated netting and trapping right up into the freshwater zones, basically the river is suffering from Fisheries incompetence.

A failure to regulate beach hauling, an inordinate amount of estuary netting and trapping has seen the poor Macleay fade to a shadow of its former glory.

Until we get some sot of fisheries management in place that actually helps protect the remnant fish stocks, things will only continue to get worse.

While fish stocks are at an all-time low in the river, if you put in enough time and effort you should be able to scrape up a feed of whiting and flathead.

With the recent rain and brown water, try fishing the run-in tides, which bring in clean water.

As you can imagine, most of the fish being caught are in the lower reaches, with Jerseyville bridge about as far up as you need to head to score fish.

Try the deep walls for school jewfish and bream and the shallow tidal flats and nipper beds for whiting and flathead.

Let’s hope we don't have any more substantial rain for the next few months and things can get back to normal.

One of the most frustrating facets about the endless brown water was the way it effectively wiped out the Spring bass season. Spring is usually the best time to chase bass but the endless brown water shut it down big-time.

Now, with a few longer gaps between freshes, many of the headwater creeks and rivers are running clean again. So if you like targeting bass, get out now (between floods) and enjoy what's left of the season.

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